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Rationalizing Religion

Religious Conversion, Revivalism and Competition in Singapore Society


Chee-Kiong Tong

Examining modernity and religion this book disputes the widely-spread secularization hypothesis. Using the example of Singapore, as well as comparative data on religion in China, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Malaysia, it convincingly argues that rapid social change and modernity have not led here to the decline of religion but on the contrary, to a certain revivalism.
Using qualitative and quantitative data collected over a period of twenty years, the author analyzes the nature of religious change in a society with a complex ethnic and religious composition. What happens when there are so many religions co-existing in such close proximity? Given the level of religious competition, there is a process of the intellectualization; individuals shift from an unthinking and passive acceptance of religion to one where there is a tendency to search for a religion regarded as systematic, logical and relevant.

Buddhism and Empire

The Political and Religious Culture of Early Tibet


Michael Walter

This book convincingly reassesses the role of political institutions in the introduction of Buddhism under the Tibetan Empire (c. 620-842), showing how relationships formed in the Imperial period underlie many of the unique characteristics of traditional Tibetan Buddhism. Taking original sources as a point of departure, the author persuasively argues that later sources hitherto used for the history of early Tibetan Buddhism in fact project later ideas backward, thus distorting our view of its enculturation.
Following the pattern of Buddhism’s spread elsewhere in Asia, the early Tibetan imperial court realized how useful normative Buddhist concepts were.
This work clearly shows that, while some beliefs and practices per se changed after the Tibetan Empire, the model of socio-political-religious leadership developed in that earlier period survived its demise and still constitutes a significant element in contemporary Tibetan Buddhist religious culture.

Mediating Piety

Technology and Religion in Contemporary Asia


Edited by Francis Khek Gee Lim

A timely and groundbreaking work, here is a comprehensive analysis of the interactions between religion and technology in Asia today. How does the use of technology affect people's experience of spirituality and the formation of religious identity and community? How do developments in the latest technological breakthroughs such as the Internet influence the ways people constitute themselves as social beings, and how does it shape their experience of the sacred and the divine? Conversely, to what extent, and in what ways do religious beliefs and practices shape people’s attitude towards new technology and its deployment? Combining wide-ranging empirical investigations and sophisticated theoretical reflections, this book demonstrates how the technological and the religious often intersect with the political, thereby elucidating the complex relationships between spirituality, social and identity formation, sovereignty and power.

Salaryman Masculinity

Continuity and Change in Hegemonic Masculinity in Japan


Tomoko Hidaka


Pia Brancaccio

This is a study that focuses on the art and architecture of a group of Buddhist rock-cut monuments excavated on the western edge of the Deccan Plateau in India. It analyses the various cultural, historical and religious phenomena that shaped the caves at Aurangabad through the first seven centuries of the Common Era and it comments on the Buddhist tradition of the western Deccan as a whole. The result is a comprehensive work that does not address exclusively iconography and chronology, but looks beyond Aurangabad to the larger artistic and religious traditions of the Indian Subcontinent.

Challenging Paradigms

Buddhism and Nativism: Framing Identity Discourse in Buddhist Environments

Edited by Henk Blezer and Mark Teeuwen

Buddhism is often portrayed as a universalising religion that transcends the local and directs attention toward a transcendent dharma. Yet, wherever Buddhism spreads, it also sparks local identity discourses that, directly or indirectly, root the dharma in native soil and history, and, in doing so, frame ‘the local’ in Buddhist discourse. Occasionally, notably in Japanese Shinto and Tibetan Bön, this localising variety of ‘framing of discourse’—here tentatively termed ‘nativism’—leads to the establishment of independent traditions that break free from Buddhism; yet, in other contexts, localising trends remain firmly embedded within Buddhism. In Challenging Paradigms: Buddhism and Nativism Teeuwen and Blezer offer a comparative study of localising responses to Buddhism in different Buddhist environments in Japan, Korea, Tibet, India and Bali.

Confucian Marxism

A Reflection on Religion and Global Justice


Weigang Chen

Buttressed by an autocratic system, China’s colossal economic growth over the past decades seems to have had the paradoxical effect of undermining the foundation of Western domination but at the same time invigorating Eurocentricism. In particular, it highlights the current relevance of the central conviction of Weber’s Orient: the absence of civic roots in non-Western societies will create a kind of “uncivic” capitalist system in which one has no choice but to seek to compensate for instabilities through authoritarian institutions. Does this mean that the West may alone afford to harmonize political stability with the universalistic ideal of justice as the basic structure of society? If not, how then is it possible to develop a notion of the primacy of social justice that transcends the limits of liberal democracy? This book aims at addressing these timely questions by drawing on “Confucian Marxism”—a distinctive perspective on civil society.

Faith and the State

A History of Islamic Philanthropy in Indonesia


Amelia Fauzia

Faith and the State offers a comprehensive historical development of Islamic philanthropy-- zakat (almsgiving), sedekah (donation) and waqf (religious endowment)-- from the time of the Islamic monarchs, through the period of Dutch colonialism and up to contemporary Indonesia. It shows a rivalry between faith and the state: between efforts to involve the state in managing philanthropic activities and efforts to keep them under control of Muslim civil society.
Philanthropy is an indication of the strength of civil society. When the state was weak, philanthropy developed powerfully and was used to challenge the state. When the state was strong, Muslim civil society tended to weaken but still found ways to use philanthropic practices in the public sphere to promote social change.


Edited by Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin and David D. Harnish

Between Harmony and Discrimination explores the varying expressions of religious practices and the intertwined, shifting interreligious relationships of the peoples of Bali and Lombok. As religion has become a progressively more important identity marker in the 21st century, the shared histories and practices of peoples of both similar and differing faiths are renegotiated, reconfirmed or reconfigured. This renegotiation, inspired by Hindu or Islamic reform movements that encourage greater global identifications, has created situations that are perceived locally to oscillate between harmony and discrimination depending on the relationships and the contexts in which they are acting. Religious belonging is increasingly important among the Hindus and Muslims of Bali and Lombok; minorities (Christians, Chinese) on both islands have also sought global partners.
Contributors include Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin, David D. Harnish,I Wayan Ardika, Ni Luh Sitjiati Beratha, Erni Budiwanti, I Nyoman Darma Putra, I Nyoman Dhana, Leo Howe, Mary Ida Bagus, Lene Pedersen, Martin Slama, Meike Rieger, Sophie Strauss, Kari Telle and Dustin Wiebe.

Islam, Colonialism and the Modern Age in the Netherlands East Indies

A Biography of Sayyid ʿUthman (1822 – 1914)


Nico J.G. Kaptein

In this biography Nico J.G. Kaptein studies the life and times of Sayyid ʿUthman (1822-1914), the most prominent Muslim scholar of his era in the Netherlands East Indies. During his long career, he provided guidance to the Muslim community and from 1889 onwards simultaneously served the colonial government as advisor for Muslim affairs after the famous C. Snouck Hurgronje had engaged him. Based on an analysis of his writings, Kaptein focuses on the question of how Sayyid ʿUthman viewed the place of Islam in the colonial state and the many reactions this provoked, both nationally and internationally, e.g. from the Cairo-based reformist Rashid Rida.

For an online exhibition on "Sayyid ʿUthman of Batavia (1822-1914): A Life in the Service of Islam and Colonial Rule" see: